Logical Reasoning

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One of the reasons that it is hard for people to accept the Good News of Jesus Christ is that it seems to fly in the face of the “logic” of the world. It is, indeed, contradictory to the logic of the world. The error is in thinking that the behaviors the world accepts as normal are logical. The fact of the matter is that the Good News of Jesus Christ transcends the false “logic” of the sinful world. The world’s logic is flawed because it can be tainted by sinful desires, whereas the “logic” of God is the product of perfect goodness, perfect truth, and perfect beauty. It is important to remember that, though fallen, human nature is also redeemed and, having been created by God, it is naturally made for goodness, truth and beauty.

This verse comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which is a profound homily on the “logic” of heaven, as opposed to that of the world. Jesus’ “logic” is perfect, flawless and, if willingly and joyfully followed, will always lead us to what is true, good, and beautiful in our divinely created nature. This verse teaches us the heavenly logic of how we ought to think and to act toward others if we want to know true happiness in this world and forever. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)

This is not what the logic of the world teaches. It teaches: “Take care of number one. Do unto others before they do unto you. Winners are better than losers. Indeed, winning is everything.” In the logic of the world we are taught to, “Do it my way, because in the end, it’s all about me.” The world takes the P.T. Barnum approach: “There is a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.” Though this is the kind of “logic” the world teaches, when the consequences of this kind of thinking come back at us, the usual response is to blame it on others. Denial becomes a habit. And, instead of avoiding the consequences of our willful actions and words, they only become worse. This is the logic of the world. This is why Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is contradictory to the “wisdom,” the “logic” of the world.

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What Jesus teaches here is not human logic, but the truth. The world says, “Take!” God says, “Give.” We understand the injustice of others taking what belongs to us, not just from our material well being, but our reputation, and/or our God-given dignity. When we take, it is to fill ourselves up, even to the point where there is no more room. And the world says, “Go for more. You deserve it. You owe it to yourself.” There is no room for God in this, no room for the other. The world’s logic is rooted in pride, greed, jealousy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth. God’s logic, on the other hand, is rooted in humility, generosity, love, patience, self-control, temperance, and courage. To give is to empty oneself for the other. In emptying ourselves in loving service to the other we make it possible to receive God’s graces, which are exactly what we need in order to live to the fullest potential of our humanity. This is the logic of love. Love is self-giving, without expecting an equal return. The world says, “You scratch my back and maybe I’ll scratch yours.” God says the opposite, “It is in giving that you receive.” This is the logic of Heaven. God is not “playing with us” here. He did what he is asking us to do. For as Paul tells us in Philippians 2: 6-8, God emptied himself of divinity and entered our humanity, even emptying himself of this in his death on the cross. This is love. This is what it means to give. This is what we are called to do as well. In the logic of heaven, the more we learn to give, the more we will receive. Indeed, we must empty ourselves, so that God can fill us to overflowing with his grace and his love.

Lord, teach us the wisdom of giving ourselves in love to you, to our neighbors and, yes, even to our enemies. Give us the strength to do so. We ask this in the power of the most holy name of Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.